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HOW TO START A TURBINE LINER
Memories of Vito Neri, chief engineer of the Cristoforo Colombo
Vito Neri on board of the Leonardo Da Vinci in the 'Seventies
Vito Neri, a chief engineer with the Italian Line, started his career in 1957 on board the motorliner Vulcania and ended it in 1994 on the container ship Amerigo Vespucci. During his 37 years of honourable service, he had the privilege of making many voyages on board the Cristoforo Colombo, the sister ship of the Andrea Doria.
He once described the fascinating (and to-day mainly forgotten) procedure for setting a steam turbine in motion. “Already, on the day before departure, it was necessary to carry out a series of preliminary operations before the furnaces of the main boilers were lit: for example, it was necessary to check the level of water in the steam manifolds. Because the feed pumps of the boilers were themselves powered by steam, we had to use in the first instance an electric pump in order to fill the boilers up to the necessary level. This was one of the many operations we had to carry out. Another very important one was to switch on the heating coils in the tanks containing the fuel and the lubricating oil, which, quite apart from separating and eliminating any water which had infiltrated them, ensured that the oil was moderately warm.